We often hear about how having a baby is the best thing in the world, how being a parent is one of life’s many joys. In many ways it is. Most days I wake up feeling excited to go down the hall to get my daughter out of her crib and see her big smile. I absolutely love when she nestles into my neck, and how she laughs when I “oink” at her. I also love when I walk into the room and she sees me; she gets so excited! It’s a heartwarming feeling to know that you are a celebrity to your child.
But not all days are like this. There are some mornings where I wake up feeling defeated before the day has even begun. I open my eyes and realize that today is not the day where I will go get a pedicure on a whim, or spontaneously meet a friend for drinks. I can’t run to the mall quickly to pick up that sweater I have been wanting forever, and I can’t go get a massage because my muscles feel tight. My baby is crying. She needs me. She needs her diaper changed, she needs to eat, and she wants to get out of her crib. It’s also snowing heavily outside, so we will be stuck indoors all day. After all, taking a baby out in the cold winter air is tough, as is bundling her up in her car seat, warming up the vehicle, getting her into the car, and then driving 10 kilometres an hour to our destination because the roads are treacherous. No, we will not be leaving the house today.
I make myself a cup of coffee and get ready for a morning of playing and baby talk. Just as I sit down to drink it, the baby starts fussing. But, why? She just ate and her diaper is clean. I pick her up and we cuddle. She stops fussing for a bit so I take a sip of my coffee and realize it is cold. It’s okay though. I’ll re-heat it. We get through the morning by reading books, dancing in the living room, watching cartoons, and singing songs. She gets sleepy and goes down for her first nap. All is well.
The afternoon looks much like the morning except I am feeling more tired and I am still in my pyjamas. We repeat our routine of a diaper change, a feed, and playtime, and off she goes for the second nap of the day. This is a perfect time for me to squeeze in 30 minutes for myself during which I will do my workout. Just as I get into my workout and start sweating, she starts crying. The second nap of the day is often like this; she fights it. I go check on her and see that her soother has fallen out of her mouth. I pop it back in and she goes back to sleep. I run back downstairs to finish my workout and she starts crying again. I begin to get frustrated because I just wanted 30 minutes out of an entire day to take care of me and do something I enjoy. I go get her out of the crib once it is clear that she is not going to sleep. I still need to wash up though so I bring her bouncer into the bathroom for her to sit in while I have a quick bath. Then it is dinner, her bath, and bedtime. Once she is sleeping, it is time for me. Unfortunately, I am too exhausted at this point to do anything remotely interesting, so I brush my teeth and go to bed.
I want moms to be able to talk about how being a mother, like every other job, is not perfect. I think we often feel bad when we talk negatively about motherhood, but the truth is that it is normal to feel this way! We can’t get through life lying to ourselves. Good emotional health comes from talking about the things that cause us grief. From discussions, we learn how to manage the bad days and celebrate the good days. This period of our lives will not last forever. It is important to face it honestly and to accept as much support as we can from family, friends, and other moms (read more on the benefits of joining a mommy support group here).
Being a parent is not always awesome. As I said before, most days are great. I do not want to go back to the days where my baby girl did not exist. However, some days I miss the freedom that came with not having a child. Please do not get me wrong. I would not trade her for all the freedom in the world. She is my everything and she is my purpose in life. But, I would not be human if I did not have some bad days or times when I felt inadequate as a mother. It’s okay to not feel okay. It’s okay to just wish that you could drink a cup of coffee without having to re-heat it, or that you could run to the store without packing up your entire house. It would be awesome to have a bath without a time limit, or a workout that went uninterrupted. This is being a parent. Some days are difficult but all days are worth it.